The petition in support of Jolovan Wham, the activist who got slapped with 7 charges relating to organising public assemblies, has been delivered to the Prime Minister and Attorney General in both email and physical copy.
Titled, “Drop charges against Jolovan Wham; Protect our freedom of expression”, the petition started at the beginning of December, and has hit almost 5000 signatures in less than 2 months. The petition, along with the 4915 signatures, was printed and mailed to the Prime Minister’s Office and Attorney General’s Chambers.
Prominent signatories include activists Kirsten Han, Seelan Palay, Roy Ngerng, civil society members Braema Mathi and Constance Singam, former detainees like Tan Tee Seng, Teo Soh Lung, Vincent Cheng, Tan Wah Piow, and Poh Soo Kai, politicians like Paul Tambyah and Tan Jee Say, poets Ng Yi Sheng, Alfian Sa’at, actors Lim Kay Siu and Neo Swee Lin, and 2017 Eisner Award winner Sonny Liew.
“Peaceful protests are a part of any democratic nation and should not be criminalised”, commented Kirsten Han in her signature. “Jolovan is not “recalcitrant”—he’s exercising his rights as any responsible citizen should.”
Organisers of the petition also held an event on 10 December, Human Rights Day, at Hong Lim Park. Titled “The Fabulous Recalcitrants”, it saw performances by poets Stephanie Dogfoot and Ng Yi Sheng, as well as a Ukele singing session by actors Neo Swee Lin and Lim Kay Siu, to show solidarity and support with Jolovan Wham amidst what was seen as a clamping down by the government on activists in Singapore.
In the letter addressed to the Prime Minister and Attorney General, it urges the government to drop all charges against Jolovan and to amend the Public Order Act, which curtails citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
As for what the petition organisers hope to achieve?
”We hope that our leaders will listen intently to the voices of this petition, and make wise decisions going forward.”